The Best Optics for Under $500
Everyone wants great optics on their firearms but most people don’t require the expensive high end optics. If you want a great riflescope for your 22lr or if you don’t intend to shoot beyond a few hundred yards you don’t need to break the bank. We looked for the best optics we could find and chose a price limit of $500. Spending big money on an expensive riflescope will not make you a better shot without a lot of practice and smaller calibre rifles simply don’t need high end optics. That being said, several of these riflescopes would even be perfectly adequate for powerful magnum’s.
These are the scopes with the highest customer rating for our price range on amazon.com. We have made sure to include most of the popular manufacturers.
Designed specifically for large caliber magnums, the Nikon M-308 Riflescope. Personally i would prefer a larger aperture than 42mm but for the price and customer reviews the Nikon M-308 is preferred. The BDC 800 reticle is set up to be used with a 308 caliber rifle and makes longer distance shooting easy, thanks to the tactical style turrets with the zero reset feature and parallax adjustment. Intended for 308 caliber AR type rifles it also works great on 308 bolt action rifles. Includes Nikon’s Lifetime Warranty.
Also available in M-223 for 223/5.56 applications
1 inch tube
FOV @ 100 yards is 25.2 inches at 4x and 16.3′ at 16x
Eye relief 4.0 -3.7 inches
1/4 inch MOA adjustments to a max of 40 MOA
Almost as popular as the M-308, the Nikon Monarch 3 is a top of the line scopes from Nikon. I am including it on the best optics list because the rifle scope can be had in 4x16x50 for our price range. Usually I will favour the 50mm aperture even if I have to give up some magnification. I have found that a 14 zoom is more than adequate for even as far out as 1000 yards, at that range your skill will limit you more than your scope. That being said, the BDC reticle makes distance shooting easy.
About the only complaint about this scope is that the reticle lines are a bit thick, at longer ranges this could be an issue.
1 inch tube
FOV at 100 yards is 25.2 inches @ 4x and 6.3 inches @ 16x
Eye relief is a constant 4 inches
1/4 MOA adjustments, (sorry I couldn’t find the max)
One of the best known brands in the world of rifle optics is Leupold and for good reason. Their quality is well known. This was at the top of the list based on customer reviews and I may have bumped it up myself simply because of the 50mm aperture. I always want the widest field of view I can get. The Leupold VX-3i utilizes Leupolds Twilight Max light management system which maximizes available light and sends only useful light to your eye, reducing glare.
One issue I have with this riflescope is the simple crosshair reticle. The magnification on this riflescope makes it possible to shoot beyond 250-300 yards. At that range it would be nice to have mil dots to help ranging your target as well as holdover and windage.
Also available in 4.5-14x- 50mm
1″ tube diameter
FOV – 29.8 ft @ 3.5x and 11 inches @ 10x
Eye relief 4.5″ @ 3.5x and 3.6″ @ 10x
1/4 MOA adjustments to a max of 52 MOA
All Leupold riflescopes feature Leupold’s Gold Ring Full Lifetime Warranty
See more Leupold VX3i reviews at Amazon.com
My personal favorite and the scope in use on my 300 wsm. I would have liked to put this on top of the Best Optics list but the amazon.com reviews placed it at second. Basically it is a fantastic rifle optic for the price as are most Vortex Optic products. Adjustable zoom from 6.5x-20x with a 50mm aperture and a left hand side parallax adjustment.
You’ll need to do a little reading but once you understand how to use the mil-dot reticle you can accurately range your targets even as far away as 1000 yards. If you are familiar with the ballistics of your rifle you can also easily know what your holdover will be.
About the only problem with this
riflescope is that it is a second focal plane, meaning that as you adjust your zoom the mil-dots don’t adjust. For the mil-dots to be accurate you need to be at 14x magnification. At close range this is to much magnification, however at close range you can simply turn your zoom down and use the crosshairs. At longer ranges, 14x magnification is great, even as far out as 1000 yards.
30mm tube diameter
FOV 17.4 inches at 20x and 6.2 feet at 6.5x @ 100 yards
Eye relief 3.1 inches
1/4 MOA adjustment to a max of 65 MOA
See more Vortex Optics reviews at Amazon.com
If you have used any of these optics and have more to add, please comment below.